Students, faculty, staff and other members of the School No. 4 community in Linden were devastated last year when Sofia K. Thomas lost her life in a vehicle crash in Chester Nov. 8. The 5-year-old died alongside her grandmother, Mariamma Thomas, 73, “her best friend,” family members said.
This week, the school held a ceremony to unveil a tribute to the student remembered as a “happy, outgoing and intelligent girl,” as she was described by attendees quoted in a release from the Linden Public Schools.
A GoFundMe campaign was launched shortly after Sofia’s death to raise money for an electronic sign named for her. About $13,000 in donations was received.
The School 4 Parent Teacher Organization paid for landscaping and engraving, while the school’s maintenance staff installed a flowerbed as part of the memorial.
“I look out and see so many people who Sofia loved,” Sofia’s mother, Tini Thomas, said during the ceremony, which drew a crowd that also included faculty, staff, friends, family as well as the school’s principal, Anthony Cataline, and the district superintendent, Danny A. Robertozzi, and Mayor Derek Armstead.
“She loved her community, she loved her school, she loved her teachers, she loved her friends. And so we decided to put all of our energies toward getting that sign board. And within a matter of days, pennies came in from heaven. They became hundreds and thousands of dollars. And the sign board went up.”
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